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Thank Your Nurse on Nurses Day

This is National Nurses Week and today is International Nurses Day. It’s celebrated each year on May 12 in honor of Florence Nightingale’s birthday. This year, American nurses are advocating for safe staffing. Lower staffing ratios result in better quality care for patients and safer working environments for nurses.

How You Can Support Vermont Nurses Today

  • Say thank you: Thank your nurse today for her dedication and hard work.
  • Educate your friends and family: Go to #safestaffingsaveslives on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to learn about safe staffing and two federal bills (HR 2083 and S.1132) that would mandate safe staffing ratios for nursing care.
  • Safe Staffing rally: On May 12, nurses will gather in Washington, DC for a grassroots event to raise awareness around safe staffing.
  • Ask a nurse to share his/her story: Nurses see firsthand how staffing affects the health and safety of patients and themselves. If you see a nurse today, ask him how many patients he has and what he thinks a safe staffing ratio would be.

Caring for Patients Puts Nurses in Harm’s Way

Nursing staff are highly likely to get injured on the job. As part of their jobs, nursing staff regularly lift heavier loads than many industrial and manufacturing occupations. Injuries to nursing assistants and registered nurses rank 4th and 7th in the nation, ahead of construction laborers and firefighters. Only truck drivers, freight movers, and janitors experience more injuries than nursing assistants (Table 10, Nonfatal Occupational Injuries and Illnesses).

BFS attorney Kelly Massicotte notes that injured nurses often overlook work restrictions out of a desire to assist their patients. “Most nurses care deeply about their patients and go out of their way to help them. When a patient falls or needs to get to a bathroom, there’s often no time to wait for the hospital’s lift team to arrive. Nurses automatically step in, often at considerable risk of injury to themselves.”

A Nurse’s Story

Our legal team at Biggam, Fox & Skinner often represents the nurses behind these statistics. Our client, VB, a certified wound care nurse in southern Vermont, began having lower back pain in 2011 after taking care of an overweight patient for three months. She often had to hold up the patient’s leg by herself while tending his wound, and after a while her back started to hurt. Treatment would sometimes take up to an hour and a half. VB would schedule him at the end of the day so she could go home immediately afterwards to treat her back. VB’s doctor recommended lumbar fusion surgery after other treatments failed, but her employer’s insurer refused to pay. They claimed she had an existing condition because she couldn’t point to a particular incident at work that caused the injury. VB contacted BFS attorney Heidi Groff, who appealed the denial with the Department of Labor. Heidi provided evidence that VB’s injury was work related and was caused over time by repeatedly lifting and holding her patient’s limb. As a result, the claim denial was reversed and VB’s employer had to pay for the surgery and all other related benefits. VB made a good recovery and was able to return to work as a nurse.

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